The Butthole Tree Rebecca Morris Chris Heenan Barbara Jones
Ken Fandell Elliot Joslin Jessica Poser Scott Reeder
Steve Rinehart Mari Eastman Rory Kerber Bernstein Jan Estep

The Butthole Tree (click any picture to download, 48 MB)

This is a 23 minute video of people talking about the sounds, sights, smells, and behaviors that bother them. It's very funny. The titular tree is believed to be the sycamore, but we're not sure. Either way, it smells bad to Chris Heenan. I originally put myself in the video but I couldn't stand how I looked and sounded so I took myself out. The things that bothered me were people hurting animals or children, and when people start singing on sitcoms.

I made this video in 1995 during my first semester at UIC, where the faculty really didn't like it, although they laughed while they watched it. Doug Ishar and Phyllis Bramson hated it especially. Tony Tasset thought to defend it, but didn't. 10 years later, I showed it at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, with a few of the Isolation Studies. Some of the editing hurts me now, but unlike George Lucas and John Fowles, I'm not going to go back and change it.

For the show at L.A.C.E., which was part of the Voiceovers series, Karl Erikson, wrote the following

"Chuck Jones plays with the nooks, crannies, gurgles, burps, tangs, foibles, and prejudices that make us human. His Isolation Studies cut our language to its raspy ingredients. Jones makes apparent the repetitions that underlay our speaking; more so, he also reveals the traumas that make necessary human communication. This is especially apparent in regards to the Loveline Isolation Studies, where those who call in, mostly teenagers, expose their raw need for contact, and then sadly met by the aloof, sardonic nature of the hosts. In The Butthole Tree, the folks interviewed go through a litany of the sounds, body functions, and human frailty that drive a wedge in our ability to communicate with one another. Our prejudices define us and limit us. Chuck Jones enables us to tell who we are."

Wow, thanks Karl.

Oh, and I made this video of Chris and Rebecca around the same time.